Engineer fined for breaches of gas safety laws

Article

05 February, 2010

A gas fitter has been fined by Hereford Magistrates' Court after it was found that he was unregistered and that the work carried out posed a significant risk to other people. Jaime Loxston pleaded guilty to breaches of the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974 and the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998 after a prosecution by the Health and Safety Executive.

The court heard that between May 2004 and May 2008, Mr Loxston had been working at a caravan site near Leominster in Herefordshire, which was being used as accommodation for migrant workers employed by a fruit grower. Mr Loxston had been contracted to install appliances, connect and disconnect pipework and carry out gas safety inspections of appliances in up to 200 caravans.

In July 2008, gas appliances in five randomly selected caravans at the site were examined by independent CORGI registered engineers from the Health and Safety Laboratory. A number of defects were identified in relation to the installation and operation. The most serious was a gas leak from pipework which resulted in carbon monoxide escaping and causing a risk to the health and safety of the caravan's occupants.

The court was informed that Mr Loxston was not CORGI registered at the time of the incidents and that a prohibition notice had previously been served on him, which required him to cease gas work until he was correctly registered. It was also said that Mr Loxston had replied to a HSE warning letter in 2002 saying that he was planning to obtain the relevant certification, but that this never happened. Mr Loxston was fined £1,250 and ordered to pay costs of £550.

The Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998

All providers of housing are under a legal duty to arrange maintenance of all gas pipe work, appliances and flues which are used by tenants by a Gas Safe registered engineer. Landlords also must arrange for an annual gas safety check to be carried out every 12 months by a Gas Safe registered engineer. When such a check is carried out, a record of the inspection must be held for two years and a copy must be provided to each tenant within 28 days of the check being completed. A copy must also be issued before a new tenant moves into a property.

Registering with Gas Safe

From April 2009, the Capita Gas Safe Register is the only gas installer registration scheme approved by the HSE under the Gas Safety (Installation and Use) Regulations 1998, thus replacing the previous CORGI registration. All installers (including those used by landlords) wanting to undertake domestic gas work will need to be registered with the Gas Safe scheme in order to be able to lawfully carry out any work on both gas fittings and appliances in a property.

The Dangers

Carbon monoxide has no smell or taste which makes identifying its presence very difficult. It can kill people without warning. In order to avoid this happening, it is advised that all residential gas appliances are properly maintained and that an annual safety check is carried out. It may also be beneficial to install carbon monoxide detectors in the property as a precautionary measure.

Summary

Prosecutions such as these show how seriously the courts view breaches of gas safety laws. Anyone who owns residential accommodation should ensure that Gas Safe authorised engineers are used for any work carried out and that safety checks are carried out on an annual basis.

For more information and assistance on these issues, please contact the Housing Department at Forbes Solicitors on 01772 220200 or contact Stuart Penswick by email.

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